Rented this film from Netflix. The teacher I have breakfasts with, who finds herself regularly frustrated with the pathologies of public schools, was anxious to see it and so was I.
It's a must-see movie. Suffice to say it's a real emotional roller coaster. We see public schools and teachers at their very worst and miserably failing, yet we also see examples of how heroic and dedicated teachers and administrators have taken children who fit the profiles of high risk and expected disaster and encouraged them to be eager and successful learners with bright futures clearly within their grasp.
Hopefully the momentum (and debate) generated by this film can be a turning point, and the American public will demand that its education system and supporting political enablers take the lessons from it. They must insist on institutions with high expectations and accountability from students, parents and teachers that can reach the potential successes this film shows. Money alone won't solve the problem. Like the managers of any other successful enterprise, school administrators must have the authority to enforce their expectations and get rid of teachers who refuse to get with the program, among other things.
Change is a'comin. I hope. Even here locally, one particular school administrator who refuses to accept the statement "I can't" has begun to "afflict the comfortable" in a big city public school, and the formerly complacent staff at her school is starting to gaze nervously at a few empty chairs at staff meetings. Maybe you'll see her in a movie some day too.